The Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is the most sought after graduate degree among U.S. college students. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), roughly 190,000 MBAs were conferred in 2013-14 academic year -- more than 25% of all master's degrees awarded during that academic year. MBA programs follow a multidisciplinary curriculum that draws on various elements of contemporary business leadership. However, MBA earners often earn a degree specialization by focusing their studies on a niche area of the administration field.
What are the best human resources programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||University of Saint Francis||Joliet, IL|
|2||Concordia University Wisconsin||Mequon, WI|
|3||University of Houston - Clear Lake||Houston, TX|
|4||Nova Southeastern University||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|5||Mercer University||Macon, GA|
|6||Pennsylvania State University||University Park, PA|
|7||Johnson & Wales University||Providence, RI|
|8||Averett University||Danville, VA|
|9||University of West Florida||Pensacola, FL|
|10||DeSales University||Center Valley, PA|
Human resources is one of the most popular specialization areas among MBA students. Human resources (or HR) concentrates on the relationships between employers, managers, employees and their work environments. HR professionals work to ensure that all personnel at their company or organization are safe, treated with respect, fairly compensated and satisfied with their work. They also handle tasks and oversee projects related to recruitment, interviewing and hiring, orientation and training. Human resources departments can be found throughout the workforce in private companies, nonprofits and government agencies. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their MBA in human resources online. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of job opportunities after graduation. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule and study-from-home format are also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other responsibilities that stand to interfere with campus-based learning.
According to the BLS, the average human resources manager earns over $100,000 per year.
Learn more about what you can do with an online MBA in human resources and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
Will an Online MBA in Human Resources Program Provide Me With the Skills I Need to Advance My Career?
An MBA in human resources is designed for students with both educational and professional backgrounds in business administration. The MBA in HR curriculum is designed to build on foundational business administration topics while also introducing more complex theories and methods. Key topics of discussion in an HR program include business ethics and law, organizational leadership, operations management and financial analysis. Many online human resources MBA programs culminate in a capstone course, which allows students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have gained with a comprehensive research project.
Will an Online MBA in Human Resources Program Work With My Schedule?
MBA online programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional classroom education. Students are able to download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from their home computer. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices.
What Jobs Can I Get With My MBA in Human Resources?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most HR roles are attainable for candidates with a bachelor's degree. Those who earn an MBA in human resources will be well-positioned to compete in the job market for top positions. Some of the most common career pathways include HR generalists, specialists and managers, as well as personnel that oversee training and development or compensation and benefits.
What Are the Best Online MBA in Human Resources Programs?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online MBA in human resources programs in the United States. If you are considering an online MBA in HR, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online MBA in Human Resources Programs
University of Saint Francis
|Joliet, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
USF, a private institution located in Joliet, Illinois, holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and serves approximately 3,800 students. Distance students enjoy remote access to USF's online MBA in human resources.
Pupils in this program prepare for global and competitive business challenges, explore leadership skills in decision making, and learn administrative components. Remote students at USF can pursue one of eight concentrations, including human resource management, training and development, supply chain management, finance, and accounting.
In most cases, online learners can complete the program in as little as 12 months. Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree in business, economics, accounting, or a related field from an accredited institution. Additionally, each prospective MBA in human resources student needs two years of full-time employment or military service in a management role.
Concordia University Wisconsin
|Mequon, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Located in Mequon, Wisconsin, CUW offers remote students an MBA in human resources. The private, nonprofit institution is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and holds a religious affiliation with the Lutheran Church.
The MBA in human resource management at CUW helps students acquire the necessary skills to manage relationships between employers and their employees. The curriculum focuses on critical areas, such as employee benefits and compensation, conflict management, insurance, recruitment, and communication skills.
Remote MBA students need 36 credits for graduation. Required courses include managerial economics, ethics in organizational leadership, applied statistical methods, corporate finance, and strategic management.
Each prospective student must submit an online application, including a personal essay, resume, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts from an accredited bachelor's program for consideration.
University of Houston - Clear Lake
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
UHCL is a public school in Houston, Texas, with an online MBA in human resources. The school boasts 9,100 students and offers more than 90 academic programs. Learners can complete the program entirely online with no on-campus obligations.
Remote students complete 36 credit hours for graduation and follow eight-week, accelerated course schedules. Most full-time learners need 14 months to complete the program. The human resource management concentration courses include employee planning, staffing, and selection; compensation and benefits; labor relations; training and development; and the legal aspects of human resource management.
Prospective students apply with the ApplyTexas.org online application, including an application fee and their official transcripts. Interested students in the online MBA in human resources must also submit their GRE scores for consideration. Learners can take advantage of remote support services, including tutoring and library access.
Nova Southeastern University
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU is a private nonprofit institution with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school offers an MBA with an available concentration in human resource management. Students can complete this degree entirely online.
This online MBA in human resources requires students to complete 40-49 credit hours for graduation, depending on their undergraduate coursework. Required courses include financial management, marketing decisions for managers, managing human resources, and accounting for decision-makers. In most cases, full-time learners complete the program in 18-21 months.
Learners interested in pursuing an online MBA in human resources each need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Online applications must include an application fee and official transcripts.
|Macon, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 66%||
Mercer is a nonprofit private school located in Macon, Georgia, with regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Remote students can take advantage of its online MBA in human resources.
Students need 36-45 credit hours for graduation. Required courses include managerial economics, accounting, issues in business law and corporate responsibility, corporate finance, and ethical leadership.
Learners choose from specialized tracks, including human resources, health management, and general business. Students complete 12 credit hours from the specialized track. Additionally, each degree-seeker needs to complete a capstone course for graduation.
Online MBA students follow a self-paced curriculum that allows them to create their own schedules. Many full-time learners at Mercer complete the program in as little as 18 months.
Pennsylvania State University
|University Park, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Penn State holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and offers an online MBA in human resources. Located in University Park, Pennsylvania, the public university serves approximately 100,000 students and offers more than 150 academic programs.
The online MBA at Penn State requires 48 credits for graduation. Degree-seekers explore critical areas of the field, including problem-solving, business analytics, critical thinking, and cross-functional business savvy. Penn State prides itself on offering more than 20 concentrations for MBA degree-seekers, including specializations in human resource management, strategic leadership, and homeland security.
Distance students can complete this program entirely online, except for a required five-day residency held in University Park at the beginning of their coursework.
Johnson & Wales University
|Providence, RI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Located in Providence, Rhode Island, JWU is a private school with regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Founded in 1914, the school today boasts approximately 13,000 students. Distance students enjoy remote access to dozens of online graduate degrees, including an MBA in human resources.
This human resources management degree typically takes full-time students two years to complete. JWU offers accelerated courses in an eight-week format. Faculty members deliver a diverse curriculum covering essential areas of the field, including business policy and strategy, operations management, labor and employee relations, and strategic recruiting.
Each prospective student must submit an online application, which requires two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and their official transcripts. Enrolled distance students enjoy remote access to academic advisors, tutoring sessions, career services, and information technology support.
|Danville, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Averett is a private nonprofit school in Danville, Virginia. The school, founded in 1859, is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and holds religious affiliation with the Baptist Church. Distance students enjoy remote access to its online MBA in human resources.
This 40-credit master's degree features specialized human resources classes that cover employment and labor laws and regulations; conflict management and negotiation; employee recruitment, hiring, and training; and compensation and benefits management. Required classes include management accounting, contemporary issues of leadership, marketing strategies, and application of quantitative principles.
Prospective students must possess a 3.0 or higher GPA in the final 60 credits of their bachelor's program for consideration.
University of West Florida
|Pensacola, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Located in Pensacola, Florida, UWF is a public university with an online MBA in human resources. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The 36-credit semester hour MBA features in-person and online cohort learning formats to best serve working professionals. The human resources management emphasis requires learners to complete four classes, including recruitment and selection, performance management, compensation and benefits, and strategic issues in human resources management.
Each candidate must submit their GMAT scores, a current resume, a personal statement of educational objectives, two letters of recommendation, and a series of answers to essay questions for consideration. Prospective pupils need at least a 450 on the GMAT or an equivalent GRE score.
|Center Valley, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
DeSales is a private university in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. With regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the school offers dozens of online programs, including an MBA in human resources.
Learners complete seven core classes, four classes in human resource management, and a capstone course for graduation. Required classes include financial management, executive skills development, business computing, and marketing management.
Each online MBA candidate must submit an online application with a current resume, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and official transcripts reflecting a 3.0 or higher GPA from an accredited institution. DeSales also requires MBA applicants to possess an undergraduate course history in macroeconomics, microeconomics, marketing, management, financial accounting, managerial accounting, and statistics.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online MBA in Human Resources Program?
|How Long Is an Online MBA in Human Resources Program?||18 months to 2 years|
|Program Costs||$25,000 to $50,000|
|Concentrations||Management, Project Management, Recruiting and Staffing, Compensation and Benefits, Training, Organizational Development, Employment Law, and Office Administration|
|Accreditation||Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)|
|Additional Considerations||Many MBA programs require candidates to sit for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and some require a minimum score. However, not all MBA programs require a GMAT score for admission.|
Employment Outlook for MBA in Human Resources
Job Placement: MBA in Human Resources
Due to widespread implementation of HR departments in both the private and public sector, the human resources industry is quite large The BLS notes that roughly 482,000 human resources specialists and 122,500 human resources managers are currently employed in the U.S.; these two careers alone are expected to increase by more than 32,000 positions between 2014 and 2024. Related occupations, such as training and development managers and compensation and benefits managers, are also expected to experience strong growth over the next eight to 10 years.
How do HR jobs stack up against other MBA-oriented fields in terms of job placement? The following table features the unemployment rates for HR specialists and eight other administration occupations. All nine professions listed on the table were included on the 'Best Business Jobs' list published by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
|Occupation||Unemployment Rate (2016)|
|Medical and Health Services Manager||1.7%|
|Market Research Analyst||2.4%|
|Human Resources Specialist||3.1%|
|Business Operations Manager||3.7%|
|Operations Research Analyst||3.8%|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
As the table indicates, HR specialists enjoy relatively stable job placement rates within the corporate sector. The unemployment rate for HR professionals is also low compared to the national unemployment rate for all industries, which currently sits at 4.6%.
Earning a Living
In addition to more favorable job placement rates, graduates with an online MBA in HR also enjoy high earning potential. However, salary expectations will depend on an HR employee's specific degree field of MBA study. The table below features entry-level earnings expectations for students with master's degrees in two MBA HR fields.
|Degree/Professional Field||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)|
|MBA in Human Resources Management||$49,600||$81,100|
|MBA in Human Resources||$48,400||$79,200|
As the table indicates, students who earn an MBA in HR management earned slightly higher salaries at both benchmarks than those with an MBA in HR. However, both degree-holders reported nearly identical salary growth after 10 years in the workforce; employees with an MBA in HR saw their earnings rise 63.6% after 10 years, while employees with an MBA in HR management experienced 63.5% growth.
In addition to MBA field of study, specific professional titles also impact one's salary outlook. The next table looks at the salary growth and projections for four of the most popular HR career pathways.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (>20 Years)|
|Human Resources Specialist||$43,558||$48,823||$50,903||$55,163|
|Human Resources Generalist||$47,148||$51,917||$53,484||$54,965|
|Human Resources Manager||$51,565||$62,068||$67,345||$69,268|
Of the four occupations listed, training managers experienced the highest rate of career salary growth: a 49.8% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Human resources managers placed second with a 34.3% earnings increase after 20 years in the workforce.
Students who graduate with an MBA in human resources will be qualified for dozens of top-level positions, although their individual eligibility will depend on additional factors such as company size and their city/state of employment. Four of the most common careers in HR are outlined below.
Compensation and Benefits Managers: These managers coordinate payment, retirement, health insurance and other compensation and benefit programs at their company or organization. They often assist employees with questions and concerns that arise, and may also work with executives to monitor and evaluate the salaries and benefits packages of different personnel.
Human Resources Specialists: HR specialists recruit, evaluate and hire employees. Their day-to-day duties include posting job vacancies, screening applicants, and conducting interviews and background checks. HR specialists usually work under HR managers.
Human Resources Managers: HR managers oversee the human resources departments at their company or organization; they also manage HR specialists, compensation and benefits coordinators and other personnel. HR managers often meet with top executives and leaders to create recruiting and staffing programs, and they may also meet with employees and managers to settle conflicts and workplace disputes.
Training and Development Managers: These managers are responsible for employee orientation, training and professional development. They play a direct role in the development, coordination and evaluation of different programs that increase productivity, build employee skills and create a more efficient work environment.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary||Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)|
|Compensation and Benefits Managers||$111,430||6% (+1,100 jobs)|
|Human Resources Specialists||$58,350||5% (+22,000 jobs)|
|Human Resources Managers||$104,440||9% (+10,800 jobs)|
|Training and Development Managers||$102,640||7% (+2,300 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to human resources is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for HR professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.
- Society for Human Resource Management: Considered the world's largest HR-oriented professional organization, the SHRM boasts 285,000 members in 165 different countries. The website features a vast online resource library, as well as links to continuing education opportunities and an events calendar.
- National Human Resources Association: Founded in 1951, the NHRA seeks to assist aspiring HR employees through networking events, job training and continuing education. Individual, corporate and student memberships are all available.
- Academy of Human Resources Development: This international organization seeks to address problems and issues in HR using academic research. AHRD's monthly online journal, AHRD Digest, features a publication archive that dates back to 2006.
Financing Your Online MBA in Human Resources Program
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
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